Congratulations on achieving joint 3rd position in the world for your CIMA Case Study exam. What do you think was the biggest factor that led to becoming a CIMA Prizewinner?
I think the biggest thing to focus on is exam technique. The FI tutors were always very clear that the line between passing and failing a case study is rarely based on technical knowledge, but rather on exam technique. The condensed notes that FI provided as part of the Case Study course were great. My process was to read those through end to end and make very condensed revision notes on the really technical bits. The majority of my studying was focussing on the exam technique that FI constantly laid out. Making sure my script would be easy for an examiner to read and that my points were clearly split so that they could tell I was deliberately moving onto a new point, and not just meandering through different ideas.
What made you choose a career in accountancy? Was there anything that triggered your decision?
For me it was about career opportunity. I started in an entry level finance role and wanted to progress. Looking up at the people in senior roles they were all qualified and it was clear that eventually I’d reach a ceiling in finance that I wouldn’t be able to get through unless I pushed through and got the qualification.
Over the course of your CIMA qualification, you have studied via FI Online as well as using FI Online Live courses. What was your preferred approach to studying? Do you have any study tips for other CIMA students?
My approach was always to do the FI Online distance courses for the objective tests, and to do tutor led courses for the case studies. I preferred being able to go at my own speed when doing the objective tests. This gave me more control over how long it took me to do the modules (and it was all that my companies training plan would support).
For the case studies however it is far less about learning formulas and theories and so much more about applying it and building exam technique so I aimed to do these in person (which I was fortunately able to convince my employer to pay the difference for these). The pandemic pushed me to do both MCS & SCS online rather than in person, but I found them just as helpful doing the live online weekend courses as I did the in-person weekend course.
How do you feel First Intuition has responded to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic? In what way has the pandemic affected your CIMA studies?
I think FI and CIMA have both done really well in transitioning during the pandemic. FI was in a good position because they already did so much live online and distance learning. I didn’t notice any delays, issues or drops in service at all due to the pandemic. CIMA also moved very quickly to allow students to complete exams at home. There was no need for students to take a forced break while they got this setup. I know that wasn’t the case for all accounting bodies, so I am impressed that CIMA pivoted so quickly too!
As a CIMA Prizewinner, which qualities would you suggest a new learner looks for in a tuition provider to get the best experience from their studies?
I did the certificate level of CIMA with Kaplan before moving to FI for the professional qualification. There are 2 main things that FI do really well. Firstly the online content is really well put together. This helps the student to learn what they need to know quickly.
The other major strength of FI is the course notes that you get for each exam. The official text for each exam is roughly 600 pages long (when you do 16 exams, it’s a lot of reading) but FI as standard provide a 100-150 page ‘course notes’ booklet. Once I started using FI and using these notes, I probably only ever looked at the official text twice over the next 12 exams.
The goal of every student is to learn the content that they need to know quickly and effectively so they can pass the exam and move on to the next one. The FI course notes and online lectures gave me everything I needed to do that. If I’d had to read the 600 pages for each exam I would still have at least half of them left.
Do you have any goals/plans in mind now that you have finished your CIMA qualification?
Lockdown severely limited my opportunities to celebrate. I did have a celebratory zoom call to enjoy the fact that the exams are over. To be honest, it’s now just about figuring out what to do with all the extra time that I have now that I don’t need to study 4 times a week!